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Self-Discipline and Learning Disabilities
Does your child or student procrastinate — even when the project being worked on makes it possible to do something enjoyable? Do you know any people with LD who can't memorize the times tables or other important rote facts? Have you opened their desk drawer or backpack and seen a disorganized mess? Do you have to tell them step by step what to do to get to school in the morning or how to complete their class assignments?
Children with these difficulties may have Executive Function Disorder. The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) says that executive function is a term used to "describe a set of mental processes that helps us connect past experience with present action." We use executive function when we perform such activities as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention, and remembering details. People with executive function problems have difficulty with managing time and space. They also show weakness with "working memory" (or "seeing with the mind's eye"), which is an important tool in guiding one's actions.
NCLD wrote an Executive Function Fact Sheet which tells parents, educators, and other supportive people how to help. Here are some recommended tips:
- Use visual aids.
- Take step-by-step approaches to work or school assignments.
- Prepare schedules and review them several times a day.
- Ask for written directions to complement oral directions, whenever possible.
- Break long assignments into chunks and assign time frames for completing each of those chunks.
- Use calendars to keep track of long-term assignments.
- Minimize clutter.
- Consider having separate work areas for different activities.
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More than one in five secondary education students with learning disabilities (21 percent) are five or more grade levels in reading below where they should be. These students have fewer opportunities to improve their reading once they leave public school. And the work world is demanding more and more literacy skills.
The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities just published the report Adolescent Literacy and Older Students with Learning Disabilities. The report describes characteristics that are typical of the adolescent learner, organizational challenges of middle school and high school, and how these challenges can be met.
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For even more information on adolescent literacy, go to our sister website AdLit.org.
Our LD resource section was recently updated by Shane Hawk, a mother of a son with LD and an active blogger. We list hundreds of websites organized by topic, type of organization, and audience. Review it now so that you are familiar with it when you need to find the right information or organization.
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Newsletter Editor: Dale S. Brown